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Stovetop "espresso" pot?

I rather enjoy an occasional cup of stovetop "espresso"...yes, I know it't not really espresso...thus the quotes. I know that Bialetti's are cheap and fine, but I'd prefer something with a bit more style. Is it worth putting out the way more bucks for an Alessi? I know they look great, but do they make better coffee? Is there something in between that looks and works great? I can afford the Allessi, but $200 is a lot, unless aside from the style, it really does make better coffee. What would you recommend?

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  1. Ah, a thing of beauty is a joy forever!

    The Bodum Chambord 3-cup moka pot costs only a few bucks more ($30) than the Bialetti, but has a more stylish appearance. Do be aware that some folks have had issues with them (mostly with the handles and seals) but I have had no such issues. It's aluminum, with either a polished or black finish. Larger units will cost more. Stainless steel models typically break the bank.

    Nicest looking, in my opinion, are those by Vev Vigano ...cost will depend on size, but should be able to get for under $100. I have personally never used a Vev Vigano moka pot, so can't say how well they work.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MikeB3542

      I actually own a well-worn Vev Vigano, 2-cup moka pot as well as a 4-cup Bialetti Musa. Both are stainless steel. The Vev Vigano despite being smaller cost a little more than the Musa, $39 to $33...not obscenely expensive. But the larger units can be pricey. The one difference I've noticed between the two is the water to coffee ratio is different. The 2-cup VV brews 2 oz of coffee while the 4-cup Bialetti 6 oz. As you might guess, ounce for ounce the VV coffee is richer and stronger than the Bialetti. Not sure why that is but it's one of the reasons why I prefer the coffee I brew in the VV.

    2. I am coveting Bialetti's Brikka pot. It has a special central valve that produces crema. I currently use Bialetti's stainless steel Class pot.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Becca Porter

        2x+ for the Bialetti stainless steel cooktop pot.

        1. re: Becca Porter

          But does the coffee itself taste any different than a standard moka pot? Crema is not always a good indicator of the quality of the espresso. Pressurized portafilters on espresso machines can produce crema no matter how bad a shot you pull.

          1. re: Chi_Guy

            I can't say myself, but it seems to have converted a lot of people on the coffee forums.

            1. re: Chi_Guy

              The Brikka does_not_produce a true crema but it does produce a greater atmospheric pressure in the chamber therefore the coffee has a little more body. I ditched the Brikka and went back to the Moka b/c I found the Brikka fussy, easily clogged, and not cost effective (requires a large amount of grounds for a small extraction).

                  1. re: MikeB3542

                    It doesn't produce enough pressure to extract the volatile chemicals from the beans that you find in a true crema. The texture of the fake crema is indeed distinct from the body of the coffee but it lacks the flavors of a true crema. Also, I found that my Brikka made a wide range of "cremas" (no two coffees turned out the same), some quite bubbly. On occasion, I'd get a crema that aesthetically appeared "true."

            2. I think the Bialetti Moka has a timeless style. The others look like nouveaux riches imposters.

              1. OK...I guess I'm dumb. I've just bought a stainless steel Bialetti pot and have used it just a few times. It works great, but I have a silly question. How do you know when the brewing is completed and that the pot should be removed from the stove? I opened the top once while it was still gurgling and coffee got all over the stove. Do you wait until the gurgling completely stops before taking it off the heat...or what???

                10 Replies
                1. re: josephnl

                  You know that noise you make when you are drinking with a straw and run out of liquid but are still sucking? That is the "I am ready" noise. Don't let it make the noise long or your coffee will taste burnt (because it is burnt). Better to leave a smidgen of water in the bottom than to let it go too long.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    I found the method described in this article works very well and I think answers your question
                    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/arc...

                    1. re: josephnl

                      "Critical final step: turn off the flame when the upper section is half full, to avoid overheating and burning the coffee."

                      This. Have the lid open so you can see when the chamber is nearing full and then turn off the flame.

                      1. re: fame da lupo

                        You have to work overtime to burn the coffee...there ought never be any brewed coffee in the lower reservoir (the part that is being heated), just water.

                        1. re: fame da lupo

                          I have recently been adding a touch of water to the upper chamber before heating. That way the coffee is buffered from the hot metal. It helps prevent the burned taste.

                          1. re: fame da lupo

                            How do you know when the upper chamber is half full? If you open the lid too soon, coffee shoots all over the place!

                            1. re: josephnl

                              Not in my regular Bialetti. It is a little fountain. If the grind is too coarse it spurts.

                              1. re: tim irvine

                                Right - the Moka pot should have a steady flow (like a fountain) of coffee. Only at the end does it start to spurt. The idea is to turn off the flame before this spurting happens, as this coffee has poor flavor. You can therefore leave the lid up and observe.

                                1. re: fame da lupo

                                  Thinking it ought to be more of a dribble than a fountain....remember: LOW heat. No mess, no burnt coffee taste, no scorched handle, no blown out pressure valves.

                                  1. re: MikeB3542

                                    Sorry, my words failed me. It never "arcs" out of the top but flows directly down the metal stem and into the bowl. The flow is more than a dribble but goes at a slow, constant pace until the "spurting" happens (which means you left the heat on too long).

                        2. I regret having discarded my ancient, retro 'Vesuviana' in a long ago move...